Tonight I made it to see the last run of Japanese filmmaker, Hirokazu Kore-eda's new film "Still Walking" (Aruitemo aruitemo). Like a lot of his other work, particularly "Maboroshi" and "After Life," this film explores grief and death as part of the every day. Kore-eda takes us into the home of a dysfunctional, yet loving family, who reunite on the anniversary of the death of a son who passed away unexpectedly. Opening with a sequence of elegantly lit close-ups of an old grandmother and her daughter shredding radishes, discussing how much more delicious they are compared to potatoes, food immediately sets the tone of the film, continuing to appear throughout as the main activity that brings the family together.
Meticulously and artfully, the family collectively assembles a series of traditional Japanese meals--eating, then preparing for the next. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that their roles in the kitchen resemble their place and participation in the family as a whole. Imagery such as corn tempura frying delicately in oil as chopsticks hover over and seasoned rice tossed with freshly plucked edamame, stay in my memory even long after the film is over. It is fitting that Kore-eda is so often compared to the great director, Yasujiro Ozu, because like Ozu, he is interested in dissecting the concept of family and the domestic space, capturing the natural intricacies and fleeting moments that make life affirming.
Here's the trailer: Still Walking
Photo credit: Stills from "Still Walking," courtesy of the Spanish blog, Cinemania